Da Vinci Painting Goes Missing

The world’s most expensive painting sold at an auction for $450.3 million, Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci, goes missing.

The missing painting, “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo Da Vinci portraying Jesus as the Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi in latin). Photo provided by Wikipedia.org

The missing painting, “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo Da Vinci portraying Jesus as the Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi in latin). Photo provided by Wikipedia.org

Lianys Olmeda, Staff Writer

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The Salvator Mundi is a painting by the renowned Italian artist and polymath Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting is believed to have been painted around 1500 and it has a rich history spanning over 500 years where it passed from owner to owner, including the collection of King Charles I of England after his execution in 1649, but the painting disappeared from the historical record in the late 18th century. The painting was rediscovered in 2005 masquerading as a copy in a regional auction in the United States. Since then, the painting has been a source of great mystery and debate for many years. People have questioned its authenticity because when it was found, it was heavily overpainted and at first was attributed to one of Da Vinci’s followers. However, upon closer observation and restoration, it has been accepted by most as an authentic piece of art by the prominent painter and ideal Renaissance Man, Leonardo Da Vinci. After being passed around by various buyers from Americans to Russians and more, the painting was bought from an auction in New York by a then anonymous buyer for $450.3 million- the most a painting has ever sold for in an auction- in November 2017. It was later revealed that the buyer was actually Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a close ally and intermediary for the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Now, Prince Bader is the first-ever Minister of Culture of Saudi Arabia, since a few months after the auction the royal court gave him the title.

Despite the fact that the owner of the Salvator Mundi is the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Louvre Abu Dhabi announced that it had somehow acquired the painting. The Louvre Abu Dhabi scheduled an unveiling of the painting last September, but it was canceled without explanation. It was never explicitly said how the Louvre Abu Dhabi was able to acquire the painting in the first place from the Saudis, which leads some to speculate that Crown Prince Mohammed might have just decided to keep it. The culture department of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is refusing to answer any questions regarding the painting, and staff privately say that they have no idea or knowledge of where the painting is.  Moreover, according to an official familiar with the Louvre Paris’ discussions with Abu Dhabi, who declined to be named because of the confidentiality of the talks, told the New York Times that The Louvre in Paris has not been able to locate the painting either. The 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death is coming soon and the Louvre in Paris was planning to display Salvator Mundi in a landmark exhibition; however, with no clue as to the whereabouts of the painting, the likelihood of such a historic event is becoming less of a possibility with every moment that the painting is missing. The loss of such a momentous and venerated piece of art by the beloved and renowned artist is felt by people from around the world. In the end, it is a loss of culture and a remnant of the genius of centuries past.

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